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2016年2月27日 (土)

中国と南シナ海 軍事拠点化の加速を憂慮する

The Yomiuri Shimbun
U.S. must bolster patrol activity to secure stability in S. China Sea
中国と南シナ海 軍事拠点化の加速を憂慮する

China’s recent maritime activities can be regarded as a self-serving attempt to expand its sphere of influence by force and thereby increase regional tensions.

China has been accelerating the militarization of islands and artificial isles in the South China Sea.

Satellite images and other findings have shown that China is constructing facilities believed to be radar installations on four reclaimed islands in the Spratly Islands.

It has already established a radar surveillance system in the northern half of the South China Sea, installing radar equipment in the Paracel Islands and elsewhere. With the latest installation of a radar system, China is apparently seeking to acquire warning and surveillance capabilities over almost the entire South China Sea.

It was also revealed that China had deployed fighter jets and bombers in addition to long-range surface-to-air missiles to Woody Island in the Paracel Islands, which is effectively controlled by China. The island’s area is said to have increased by 40 percent in less than two years through expansion of a runway and other facilities.

The series of Chinese maritime activities can be considered the foundation for establishing an air defense identification zone over the South China Sea in addition to the one already set up over the East China Sea.

Clearly, the administration led by President Xi Jinping has an ambition to enclose the South China Sea — without grounds under international law — and treat it like a Chinese “lake” in an attempt to eliminate U.S. influence in the area. China is believed to be considering effectively implementing an anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategy to ensure naval and air supremacy, thereby deterring the intervention of the U.S. military in times of emergency.

Chinese sophistry

Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Command, has expressed a strong sense of caution against China’s militarization of the islands, telling a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, “I believe China seeks hegemony in East Asia.”

Of serious concern is that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Li has dismissed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s concern about China’s maritime activities.

During a news conference after meeting with Wang, Kerry said, “I stressed that any enforcement by any party of maritime claims by deploying their own aircraft over disputed areas are not compatible with the freedoms of navigation and of skies of access to flight operations.” But unless Washington applies stronger pressure on Beijing, it will be impossible to stop China’s unilateral actions and speech.

Wang countered by saying more attention must be given to the fact that “strategic bombers and missile destroyers are appearing every day in the South China Sea.” China’s assertion that U.S. military patrol operations, which embody freedom of navigation, are “militarization” is nothing but sophistry.

During his visit to the United States last September, Xi stated that his country “has no intention of pushing militarization.” China argued persistently that the country would perform its international responsibilities, including providing rescue operations and ensuring the safety of navigation.

We cannot accept a situation in which a great power that should play a pivotal role in stabilizing the South China Sea does not honor an international pledge and instead moves to destabilize the security conditions.

It is essential for the United States to maintain and bolster patrol operations. Tokyo and Washington must cooperate closely with other countries concerned as they apply continued pressure on Beijing.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 26, 2016)


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